You have probably heard about Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda located in the geographical heart of the country. Well, let us go back in time and learn a little bit about the city’s history. The city was founded in 1907 by a German explorer named Richard Kandt and became the capital city upon Rwandan independence in 1962. Also, we cannot talk about the story of Kigali city without mentioning the Rwandan genocide caused by the assassination of President Habyarimana in April 1994. The genocide resulted in a mass killing in which over 800,000 Hutu and Tutsi were killed. After this heartbreaking tragedy, the whole country was devastated and hope for a better life seemed to be lost. Today, you may wonder how Kigali is doing. Is the city still have the same profile as 2 decades ago? How do people survive? Why is the city so popular nowadays? So many questions that will be answered in the following lines of this article.
Kigali city is today a rising start in Africa, but also worldwide. The city is popular for so many reasons. The city is known for being the friendliest African city ever. Politicians in Rwanda are making a huge difference compared to the rest of the African politicians. Their vision is to make the city of Kigali a modern, clean, safe and competitive place for its citizens, with a ‘’Better Service Delivery’’ as an identity. To achieve this, Rwandese are standing together as one and joining their hands to be warm and hospitable to each other and to visitors. In addition, they are working hard to keep a good image of the country after the nightmare, which occurred 2 decades ago. No wonder why the city is considered a role model for other African cities.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced the signing of a three-year partnership with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in order to promote the Visit Rwanda campaign. Thanks to this partnership, Rwanda welcomed 1.7 million visitors in 2019, and nearly 142,000 people would be employed in the tourism sector, compared to 90,000 the previous year (https://www.visitrwanda.com/).
The country of a thousand hills seems set to take up the challenge with Green City Kigali and intends to register as the model of digital transformation in Africa. The Smart City project is well received in Kigali because it is on a good track for the moment. It was presented as a major ecological challenge, digital, but also economic and its extent will be on 600 hectares with some 30,000 dwellings which will be built there. Authorities predict the project will create at least 16,000 jobs.
According to Florian Mugabo, Head of Division in charge of programs at Rwanda Green Fund, “Green City Kigali’’ aims to improve the quality of life of the populations. He added that leaders in Rwanda want to set new standards and create a green and resilient urban center. On the outskirts of this new city, cities will be created with ecological housing, infrastructure, public transport, shops and parks accessible to all.
After so many speculations about Kigali, I got the privilege to visit the city and to be a witness of that change. In Kigali, I have seen a very green and well-organized city supplied with dustbins in every street. I have seen dustbins organized depending on the type of waste and the population knows their uses. I have seen women waking up at 5 am and gently wiping the streets. I have seen citizens in the streets, keeping their wastes with them in order to throw them in the nearest dustbins. I have seen a limitless number of streets, free of rubbish. To be honest, I could not believe what I was seeing and this is for me the greatest accomplishment ever for an African city.
Now, I feel like it is my duty to share this and let my African fellows know that change is possible. Africans deserve a better living environment, a quality education, improved healthcare services and we have to be actors of that change, right where we are. To conclude, as Africans, we need to learn about our true history, to be connected to our roots, and remember where we came from in order to know where we are going. As late, Miriam Makeba was saying: ‘’the conqueror writes history, they came, they conquered and they write. You do not expect the people who came to invade us, to tell the truth about us’’.